Managing Our Adult Children: How to reconnect with them (and with yourself!)

August 19, 2012 at 9:00 am in Other Topics by VN Featured Comment

Today’s Featured Comment

From Ca2TX

After my husband died, the kids were close and wanted to be there for me, but they have their own grief issues with which to deal. They have families of their own and know that I can take care of myself. The boys want to help with “the heavy lifting”, but they live an hour away and cannot just stop by when they want to do so.

I was lonely for them at first, but realized I needed to get on with it.

I do not want to live through my kids. I still have a career and have friends. I am trying to make friends with people who didn’t know my husband so I have new memories.

Also, I, too, pay people to do the heavy lifting and all the things my husband used to do.

As for the kids, I wish we were closer. It is funny; the child who was not close to my husband and stayed away is now closer to me. The boys were closer to him and are having a hard time. They have some anger issues.

My problem is that they alternate between wanting me to be the cookie-baking grandmother — which I am not — and being a shoulder to lean on or  cry on, which I am.

Do I wish things were different? Yes. I would love to have the happy Leave it to Beaver like the reunion show: happy grandkids, fond memories of Ward, frequent visits from the kids. . .

  • I am the one with more time to initiate the visits, so I schedule dinners. The monthly dinner is a great idea. You may not get all the kids, but little by little there will be a value to it.
  • Set your ground rules. Let them know you are not forcing yourself on them and they can come or not, but you’d love to HEAR WHAT IS GOING ON in their lives.
  • Make it more about them and not your needs. You are the parent and not the child, after all.
  • Be supportive of them. Their equivalent of hugs and kisses from you may be actions like supportive listening or baby sitting or swinging a hammer when repairs are needed at their homes.
  • Show them you are more than a needy “dramatic” mother. You are a woman of value who can bring value and benefit into their lives.
  • Also, do talk to a therapist. Mine helped me see what my relationships were about. Too much was about me and not enough about them. Not that I am not worth it, but I was having my own pity party way too much.

I was lucky enough to meet a young family who needed what I had to offer. I include them in my family dinners. They unwittingly defuse family tension, add a happy dynamic, and treat me like family.

You know the old saying: people treat strangers on the street better than they treat their own family. Well, it is true. I was treating my kids with less respect for their privacy, their personalities, and so on; they treat me the same. I am working on that and hope my actions will show them. It will take time.

Meanwhile, I move on. There is still a lot of pain. I’m not going to kid you. But you don’t have a choice. You were given a life to cherish and protect and that life IS YOUR OWN. Don’t waste it, please.

I do wish for you the very, very best. There is more for you out there than a life lived vicariously through your kids!

[This comment was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]

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